Happy Trails, Cars and Coffee
Once upon a time, the best free car show in the known galaxy happened in Scottsdale Arizona on on the first Saturday of every month. The event exploded, and the “usual suspects” behind the event tried to accommodate the throngs.
The strip mall merchants mostly hated it. Scottsdale PD loved but also hated it. It outgrew its britches, and moved to a new strip mall in Phoenix. There was room, and initially some excited tenants, hoping for a business boost.
The honeymoon didn’t last, and the show evidently got blowback from the cheap furniture store anchoring the mall. Other tenants marked off space as no car show zones (just like te last place). The usual assholes at car shows started stunting their way out, causing headaches.
Whether it was producer fatigue, an overabundance of sellers among the showers, cop pressure or an unsustainable business model, the show is dead in the water. For how long is unknown.
It stopped being fun for me a while ago. I know it stopped being fun for at least some of the organizers a while ago. I heard certain people in control of things longing out loud for the old place and the smaller show. I read other people’s increasingly tense remarks online. Poor Peter was so frazzled, he ran into and nearly knocked over a couple grand worth of my camera equipment because watching where he walked while trying to figure out how a push-to-talk megaphone worked was information overload. (Still a little salty about that one, Peter, because there was no apology - not even an “excuse me“).
So what now? The way forward seems to hinge on whether the showrunners want to be artists or capitalists. Put another way, do they want to be an In-N-Out Burger or a McDonalds?
Here’s my thought: Get smaller.
Abandon the monthly parking lot show, or farm it out to one of the auction houses or dealers. Just not Earnhardts. Please God not them. Anyway, it seems to be the nature of the beast that the neighbors get pissed and you have to move the show. Let somebody else do it.
Do events, not shows. Stick to one thing and make it the best. More Festival of Speed, less Paul Blartt in the Kia security car hassling the overflow parkers every month.
-Resurrect the idea of the Arizona Concours to kick off auction week. Maybe merge the Fountain Hills event into an auction week kickoff.
-Do something like Concorso Ferrari used to be in Pasadena (or like the Rodeo Drive Concours). Take over old town Scottsdale some Sunday morning once a year. Curated list of show cars; stellar backdrops. One high quality show beats 12 grinds at a mall.
About the Fountain Hills concours - lovely event, but is there a way to stage it to take advantage of the scenery? The Ford GTs and the helicopters [?!] got some great staging around the lake, for example. Many of the rest of the display cars were rowed up like Black Friday at the mall. Make the F.H. concours more like a Concours and less like SMG on grass. Even if it means you have fewer cars (and no gunships), go for quality and elegance.
At least return to your roots with the SMG if it continues. A couple rows of tarted up Italian supermodels and some crazy rare invited guests. (And a coffee sponsor.) Everyone else can just be a spectator.
Otherwise, go all in on the everything to everybody idea. Good luck with that.
Those are my unsolicited thoughts. As a patron of free car shows, I look forward to what they come up with, and I hope it is of interest. Ciao.